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onDiem offers solutions for parents with limited childcare

Aug. 11, 2020
Advice on how to find safe, flexible working options in the age of uncertainty about COVID-19 and schools reopening

Editor's note: This article first appeared in Dental Works, a newsletter providing staffing advice for dental practices and career guidance for dental professionals. The newsletter is published by DentistryIQ with support from onDiem. To subscribe, visit dentistryiq.com/subscribe.

COVID-19 spikes continue to happen across the country. Many states are still committed to reopening and keeping businesses going—be they restaurants, shops, or dental practices. Adding to the uncertainty, schools have been slow to announce their plans for the fall as they weigh what is best for students as well as teachers and staff. These circumstances leave parents with tough decisions about whether or not it’s safe to return to work, and if so, how to balance their economic realities with their childcare needs.

Limited legal recourse

The passage of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) was a glimmer of hope for many parents, as one of its provisions is offering recourse for employees who can’t work due to the closures of schools or childcare facilities and the resulting lack of childcare. In a series of articles for JD Supra titled Tackling the Realities of COVID-19, Ashley Pricket Cuttino, JD, MHRD, a labor and employment lawyer and mother, unpacks the details of FFCRA. There are many great components to the legislation, including the requirement that employers with fewer than 500 employees provide emergency paid sick leave and expanded emergency family and medical leave up to 12 weeks. There are two major limitations:

  1. Health-care providers are exempt.
  2. Businesses that employ fewer than 50 employees may be exempt.

Unfortunately, that puts dental practices squarely in the category of businesses that may not be required to provide access to this economic lifeline.

Expand your options

If the law isn’t going to provide a backup plan, the best thing you can do is look at your options for finding work that is both safe and meets your scheduling needs. One way to do that is to revisit “temping.”

The first step is to erase the word “temping” from your vocabulary. Increasingly, modern staffing organizations are focused on creating what is called “flexible staffing” opportunities that better align with the evolving needs of dental professionals and practices alike. Often the concern with part-time or intermittent shifts is less about short-term logistics and more about long-term concerns, such as filing taxes properly or qualifying for health-care benefits. This is where onDiem, a company that addresses dental workforce needs, is hoping to set itself apart.

onDiem’s on-demand staffing platform connects dentists, dental hygienists, dental assistants, and front office professionals with both temporary and permanent staffing opportunities. With a free account, professionals can search for and request temporary work opportunities in their area that meet their scheduling, hourly rate, and safety requirements. 

Professionals who work through onDiem are W-2 employees, not 1099 contractors. This means that the company pays professionals directly, covers employer-paid taxes, and takes care of workers’ comp and malpractice insurance. In addition, onDiem employees are eligible for affordable health-care benefits, paying the premium—$35 for medical and an additional $5 for dental and vision—on a weekly basis instead of monthly. If an employee doesn’t pick up another shift again for five weeks, then coverage expires. But if the employee needs to see a doctor three weeks after his or her last shift, the employee is still covered and can just opt to pay back two weeks of premiums. The plan onDiem offers helps with prescriptions and even hospital and ambulance allowances. It isn’t set up for catastrophic coverage, but it is flexible for a workforce that needs it.

To ensure safety, onDiem has created new features that increase in-app communication between practices and professionals. Practices are required to add details about what specific PPE will be provided on-site to each temporary shift listing. This allows professionals seeking temporary work more control to find opportunities that meet their personal safety requirements. Furthermore, on the day of the shift, professionals have the option to cancel should they find working conditions unsafe. In the event promised PPE is not provided, professionals may cancel on the shift day and still be paid for four hours of work. Following each shift, onDiem asks professionals to complete a short survey to verify the shift went as expected and that they felt safe working.

“The real value that onDiem offers dental professionals is the chance to manage their careers to fit their lives, not the other way around,” says Beth Deutsche, director of operations for onDiem. “We know that professionals on our platform are so much more than their jobs. Many are responsible for the welfare of others, and right now, finding work that’s safe, meets their income needs, and works with their schedules is a challenge. We’ve spent the last few months adding new safety features, and building up a supply of jobs on the platform, anticipating that they’d need more options when practices reopened. We’re going to keep working to offer more flexible work opportunities, increased safety, benefits, and support, because we understand the impact those things have on a person’s life and wellbeing.”

The takeaway

Flexible work options that support your family’s schedule and provide peace of mind about working safely are important if your kids are in school part of the day, part of the week, or every other week—if at all. The current COVID-19 landscape highlights the ways in which being able to take some control over your career is important, but you can see how a model like this one could easily create value for the dental professional year-round.

Editor's note: This article was updated August 13, 2020, to add information about safety considerations. The headline and subhead were also changed to better reflect the main points of the article.